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Lead Generation is NOT working

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Lead Generation Doesn’t Work

Yea, you read me right, lead generation doesn’t work. Oh, it is not the leads or the whether you require folks to register to see the homes or not.

Lead generation doesn’t work for the following three reasons:
1)    The agents don’t know how to follow up.
2)    The agents give up
3)    The IDX site sucks

Follow Up

By now you know I am talking tongue in cheek, because I am a firm believer in lead generation. I believe that requesting your visitors to register on your site is the best way to convert those leads. Others don’ problem. (not the point of the post) Picking up that phone and calling them right away, connecting in a meaningful way brings the highest rate of return.
I wish I could tell you how many times we have been thanked for calling. “Thank you for calling, we have received so many emails from agents, but you are the only one who has called.” Bingo

Making the first call is not a hard sale. It is a helpful, friendly call to see if you can help with the site or their search. On my site people can put in the price, area, beds, baths etc. Many folks don’t bother to leave the price range. Our site is set up to pull and send them new listings straight from the MLS after they save a search.

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The majority of the people registering click to receive new listings and price changes.  However, if they don’t put in a price range they will get every new listing in the area.  Ouch. Talk about email overload.

If we see they have not put in a price point in their saved search, that is the focus of the first call. We let them know they will be receiving ALL the listings, their email will be in overload and we offer to change their criteria so they can ONLY get the homes in the price range of their choice.  First a simple call to be helpful.

Agents Give Up

During the first call you can easily find out how soon they need to buy, if they are just starting their search, if they are working with a Realtor, if they are just playing around, if they like Michigan football, when they plan to move etc… Regardless of their motivation now you know and you can design your follow up accordingly.

Too many agents just “forget” the person and don’t have a system for staying in touch with them.  I have posted before that the problem isn’t the amount of the leads we receive it is the way we handle them. How we stay in touch until they are ready to buy or sell.

Your IDX

What is so different about your IDX search? Does it look different? Is it visually appealing? There are many ways to make your site appealing, a landing page, colors, lots of photos, maps, satellite images.

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Having tested different sites over the years, what I found to be true is that people that register like to see what they are going to see before they put their contact information down. If your site is different and more visually appealing than what they have seen on other IDX Search sites, they are more likely to do so.

Three Situations

This past week three different situations came up. My daughter who is now living in Seattle and was a Buyer Agent on my TEAM for 5 years, interviewed with a company we knew was using the same IDX site as ours.

The Brokers were ready to give up, they had ONLY converted 2 leads in 5 months. Christa took a look at the back-end of their site.  It took her all of 5 sec. to determine the problem, there was no follow up. The few agents that had responded it was days later. Not only that there were 530 leads sitting in their RE/MAX site that had not been followed up.  Lets see approximately 5,500 people who had registered and very few followed up.

No wonder they were ready to give up. The sites fault? … or the agent’s fault?

Second, I met with a local Broker this week, of course recruiting was in the conversation but that was not the main reason for the coffee. She has just recently got into social media, came back from Inman and wanted to chat about what I was doing.  I mentioned to her that when my former Broker didn’t renew our franchise in ‘05, that she had called and tried to recruit me, but that I was not going to pay a referral fee on my own listings, then or now. Their office has a lead coordinator and she calls and converts the leads then when they are ready, gives them to agent.

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She too was tired of seeing the leads just sit on the site with no follow up.

Nothing wrong with having a lead coordinator, I’ve thought about it myself during moments of frustration. What she said, struck a cord with me…”I am paying out the wazoo for these leads, I am not going to have them just sit and not be followed up.”

When you invest in PPC and lead generation, there is nothing more frustrating to a Team Leader or Broker then to see that the “potential” client took the time, registered and then is not getting any personal attention.

Third, two team leaders came to me in my own office. Frustrated because their Buyer Agents were not following up. They were ready to fire them all and start over.  Knowing the best leads are called right away and the second best leads are those who come back and start searching again, what’s up with this? It’s not like we are rolling in buyers in my market.

Finally, if you don’t believe in lead generation, don’t do it. It is one tool we use in reaching out to buyers and to grow our business. However, if you believe in it and see the value, then do it right…have a good IDX search, follow up in a timely manner and stay in touch.

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Written By

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.



  1. Joe Loomer

    August 28, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    AMEN Missy – I can remember in the days before my conversion (I won’t elaborate – you know what I mean) I’d sit giddy with excitement as I gazed at the new leads in my inbox. Then go off to lunch, come back, respond, and wonder the next day why they’re not calling or emailing me back.

    Reminds me of GK’s words in February in Orlando – “Why are agents getting out of real estate in record numbers? Answer – THEY HAVE NO CLIENTS”

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  2. Sam Ingersoll

    August 28, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Nice Essay Missy,

    What do you recommend agents “say” to the leads?

    I know a lot of agents who call them and say, “I’m calling to follow up,” and the person blows them off.

    If you hate cold-calling, Ari Galper, at has probably the best possibly approach.

    If your IDX or website has a lot of features, talking to them about those is a good conversation starter.

    The key is to not give up. I’d make a minimum of 7 calls before considering quitting on phone call follow-up, and it’s really important to stagger the calls i.e. morning, afternoon, evening, weekday, weekend.

    If they don’t get back to you, you probably just haven’t caught them at the right time.

    I’ll post some more detail on my website. Good Luck!

  3. Ian Greenleigh

    August 28, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    I can’t say it amazes me that people don’t follow up with a phone call, but it is a little perplexing. Emails are SO easy to ignore, but phone calls have a great chance of being taken. Be consultative and not “salesy” and you’ll be fine (not you, Missy, but agent x out there).

  4. Missy Caulk

    August 28, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Sam, it depends on the type of inquiry. If they request a CMA, I go make sure it is not already listed.
    If it is more information on a home…we answer their question.

    If it is a just a sign up we offer to help w/the site. I wrote a post on this on AG a while back.

    Ian, I can’t figure it out either, honestly I have no clue. If I did it would sure help, being helpful and consultative is how we try to approach them, not a hard sale at all. Well I never do that anyway even if I’ve known them for ever just not my style.

    Joe, IMO waiting 24 hours is a disaster.

  5. Missy Caulk

    August 28, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Sam, it depends on the type of inquiry. If they request a CMA, I go make sure it is not already listed.
    If it is more information on a home…we answer their question.

    If it is a just a sign up we offer to help w/the site. I wrote a post on this on AG a while back. Don’t vomit on your leads. Tried to put the link in it didn’t work but go to the search bar on AG and you will find it.
    Ian, I can’t figure it out either, honestly I have no clue. If I did it would sure help, being helpful and consultative is how we try to approach them, not a hard sale at all. Well I never do that anyway even if I’ve known them for ever just not my style.

    Joe, IMO waiting 24 hours is a disaster.

  6. Barry Cunningham

    August 29, 2009 at 1:00 am

    Hey Missy… it’s like preaching to the choir here. It no longer amazes me what little follow up takes place. It seems the good old days ruined too many agents. Now they are lost and will never catch up. My wife just got featured in Florida Realtor Magazine and I took a call from an agent who saw the story and asked what he needed to do to catch up? I simply said you can’t…but you can get pretty far ahead of others just by trying to catch up.

    By the way…since you brought it up…Michigan figure out that only 1 quarterback can play at a time!

  7. MIssy Caulk

    August 29, 2009 at 8:19 am

    I’ll tell Rich Rod. I actually saw a pre-season interview the other night with all 3 of them, all are different. They tried to get it out of him which one, and he wouldn’t say. But, I suspect he knows. 🙂

  8. Barry Cunningham

    August 29, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Well good luck and we’ll see ya on September 12th!!! Go Irish!!

  9. Amy Chorew

    August 29, 2009 at 11:27 pm


    You are feeling my pain. It is frustrating when people in our industry keep on purchasing programs and systems and not trained to use them effectively. I am thinking of starting a website called where we could sell all our “stuff” we bought that we dont use . . . like lead generation!

  10. Matt Stigliano

    August 30, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Missy – Thanks for the reminder. Follow up is something I’m constantly trying to improve on my end. I admit, sometimes I fail at it. My clients get all the calls, but sometimes the leads get neglected and I know it and kick myself later for it. This post will be read again this week to make me think of how I need to stay consistent with it. Thank you.

    Amy – Your idea of Flippin’ genius.

  11. Atlanta Real Estate

    August 31, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Missy you nailed it!

    Late followup and no followup are killers. Also, the statistic is that someone poking around at homes on the internet is 6-9 months out.

    Wonder how many people can find a lead 9 months later.

    When I first started, my broker had a decent site that via Adwords, collected a lot of leads. He would dole them out to the 8 agents once a week. Then, he would never ask about them again.

    After a year, I decided I could do EVERYTHING he was doing way better and I left and started my own site.

    Every lead I get goes into my ACT! database and I have a methodical schedule for pinging them forever, or until they bounce, or until they tell me to beat it (very rare).

    I have not been calling, but this is not a bad idea. I’ve got a good RE business now from only my web site and lead management.

    Again, good article.

    Rob M

  12. MIssy Caulk

    August 31, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Rob, we get a much better response for those ready if we call, the potential customer is shocked, majority are very, very nice.

  13. Atlanta Real Estate

    August 31, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    I agree. I used to call the leads my previous broker handed out to me and whenever I got a valid phone number, the conversations were always productive.

    For the sake of trying to MAXimize registrations on my site, up until about two weeks ago, there was a note on the registration page that said “no agent will call you.”

    So, I didn’t call. But I recently changed this to try something new, and it no longer says this.

    So you know what, I’m gonna start calling again. Starting with the 7 leads I received today!


  14. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 22, 2009 at 11:30 am


    This is a followup. For the last three weeks I have called my IDX leads if:

    –the phone number looks good
    –I have the time to kill (I know, very subjective)
    –the phone number is a out of town number

    It’s helped a great deal. And you’re right, not a single one of them were mad that I called and some of them were quite talkative. Overly in a couple of cases.

    One was a real deal that I met yesterday and showed half a million dollar townhomes to. Maybe if I don’t call that one, it doesn’t happen.

    Don’t get me wrong, calling strangers is still lame but it definitely works!!

    Thanks again,

    Rob in Atlanta

  15. MIssy Caulk

    September 22, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Rob, well wonderful, so glad it worked out for you. Like you said if you hadn’t called “maybe” it wouldn’t have happened.

    Rob, I don’t know anyone who “loves” talking to strangers, but you do have something in common. They want to buy and you want to sell…

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